Gail's Book Nook

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Looking Out the Window: Tamera Lynn Kraft Talks About Red Sky Over America, An Historical Novel Tackling The Evils Of Slavery

A Warm Welcome to Tamera Lynn Kraft

First, tell us a little about yourself.

I've always loved reading adventures. I love to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. I always include strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in my stories. I've received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and was a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest. I have a number of novellas and two novels, Alice's Notions and Red Sky Over America, published. I've been married for 39 years to the love of my life, Rick. I have two married adult children and two grandsons. In August, I'm expecting the arrival of my third grandson.

I've been a children’s pastor for over 20 years. I am currently the director of a ministry called Revival Fire for Kids where I mentor other children’s leaders, teach workshops, and am a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. I've also written children’s church curriculum. I'm honored to be a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?

I was a very avid reader. I always had my nose in a book, and was one of those children who took a flashlight to bed to hide under the covers so I could read all night. I read just about anything. I remember enjoying Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew Mysteries, but I also love Little Women, Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables, A Wrinkle in Time, and Call of the Wild. My reading tastes were pretty eclectic. They still are.

Tell us about your latest book.

Red Sky Over America is Book 1 of the Ladies of Oberlin Series. The series is about three women who attend Oberlin College, the only college before the Civil War to allow blacks and women to earn degrees beside of white men. Here's the blurb.

William and America confront evil, but will it costs them everything?

In 1857, America, the daughter of a slave owner, is an abolitionist and a student at Oberlin College, a school known for its radical ideas. America goes home to Kentucky during school break to confront her father about freeing his slaves.

America's classmate, William, goes to Kentucky to preach abolition to churches that condone slavery. America and William find themselves in the center of the approaching storm sweeping the nation and may not make it home to Ohio or live through the struggle.

Red Sky Over America tackles the most turbulent time in history with thorough research and fascinating characters. Tamera Lynn Kraft has woven a tale about the evils of slavery that should never be forgotten. -- Mary Ellis, author of The Quaker and the Rebel, The Lady and the Officer, and The Last Heiress.

In three words describe your style of writing.

Faith-filled, Adventurous, Heart wrenching. About the heart wrenching part, I'm not kind to my characters. I'm always placing them in horrible situations and then making it worse. I feel sorry for them.

Do you put yourself in your books?

Absolutely. I don't know of a good writer who doesn't. In Red Sky Over America, I remembered when I was a young adult trying to break away from family who wanted to tell me how to live my life. I always felt like I was being torn in two. Those emotions are what America, my main character, felt like when she confronted her father about owning slaves.

What are you working on right now?

I am editing and finishing up Book 2 in the Ladies of Oberlin Series. It centers on Lavena, the Oberlin lady who is passionate about rights for women. She is a reporter during the Civil War and convinces her boss to allow her to report on the Ohio Seventh Regiment, considered the most heroic regiment of the Union Army. The catch is she has to do an interview of an illusive Army captain who is hiding a secret and doesn't like reporters. It is due to be released in November.

Buy Red Sky Over America  on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Tamara Shares Her favorite Bible Verse and Recipe

Favorite Verse

I have a lot of favorite verses, but my all-time favorite that has helped me through some tough times is Isaiah 43:1-2. But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Favorite Recipe: Chocolate Drops

This is not only my favorite recipe, my children love it as well.


1 lb. butter (I like to use real unsalted butter.)
3 lbs. or 10 ½ cups confectioners sugar
1-7 oz. jar marshmallow crème
3-4 lbs. chocolate (I use dark chocolate. The candy is so sweet that the dark chocolate tones it down a bit.)

Thouroughly mix by hand or with dough hooks the butter, sugar, and marshmallow crème.
Roll into 1 inch balls and place on cookies sheets lined with pastry or wax paper.
Freeze for at least 24 hours.

Dip in melted chocolate. (You can melt the chocolate in the microwave or buy a special dipping machine.)

For a variation, put a few drops of candy flavoring in the recipe such as mint or strawberry.


Connect with Tamara on her Website.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Looking In the Window: Happy Valentine's Day from Nine Authors

"...But the greatest of these is love."
 (I Cor.: 13 - 13)

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Prism Book Group’s Love Is Series...

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails...” I Corinthians 13: 4 - 8

Nine authors each chose one of these characteristics of love to write about, so there are nine novellas in the Love Is... Series. 

Check out each book in the series here 

Mine is "it (love) is not easily angered." Look for it here

Wishing you a Valentine's Day and a life filled with love.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Monday, February 5, 2018

Looking Out the Window: Donna Schlachter Talks About A Bouquet of Brides Collection. Gives Away A Copy.

A Warm Welcome to Donna Schlachter

Donna introduces us to A Bouquet of Brides Collection and shares an excerpt. She'll give away a print copy (U.S. residents only). To enter to win join the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

About A Bouquet of Brides Collection

Lily Duncan—“Cactus Lil” to friend and foe alike—is as prickly as her name implies, and she likes it that way. Arizona in 1885 is a land as harsh as the moon, but Lil, born and raised near Cave Creek, feels at one with the sand, rocks, and giant saguaros. She loves living in the desert, and is happiest on her own on her small cattle ranch near Cave Creek, Arizona. Although she’s never been in love before, she pens romantic short stories for a magazine under her pen name of Daisy Duncan.

Peter Golding has never been west of the Mississippi, but a tender young woman named Daisy who writes of love and relationships intrigues him. Through reading her powerful descriptions of what love should be, Daisy’s stories have captured a part of his heart.

When Peter’s uncle sends him to find Miss Daisy Duncan and bring her back to New York City, Peter decides to take matters a step further and bring her back as his bride—surely then his uncle will be impressed with her. But when he arrives, he quickly realizes that Miss Lily Duncan is no shrinking violet waiting to be rescued. In fact, she has to rescue him several times.

Cactus Lil finds her heart torn between this stranger from the east and her desire for independence. If she surrenders to her feelings, will she be forced to do his bidding? When she finds a telegram from her editor telling Peter to bring her back or lose his job, she believes his attentions to be self-serving. Will Peter choose her or his job? And will she decide to surrender her heart or send him packing—again?

Buy  on Amazon

Double D Ranch
Near Cave Creek, Arizona Territory, 1885

Chapter 1

Sally Jo sank to the ground beneath the pain of her wrenched ankle. “Drat. I simply cannot walk one more step in these infernal boots.”

Thomas Peabody, broad of shoulders and narrow of waist, knelt beside her, cupping her aching foot in hands more accustomed to roping steers or shooting the eye out of a gnat at a hundred yards. “Miss Sally, allow me to assist you.”

Sally Jo stared into his eyes. Why hadn’t she ever noticed they matched perfectly the color of the summer sky? “Why, Mr. Peabody, you’re most gallant.”

He straightened, reached a hand toward her, and pulled her to her feet. When she tried to put weight on her aching foot, a jab of pain like a hot poker shot through her, and she collapsed into his arms.

Right where she wanted to be.

He pulled her near, and she closed her eyes, offering her mouth to him. Greedily, as though drawing his very life essence from her, he covered her lips with his own. When she thought she would suffocate, she opened her eyes, and saw mirrored what her racing heart telegraphed to her own mind: this was love.

Lily Duncan surveyed the words written on the page as she chewed the end of her fountain pen. Ink blotches on her fingers attested to her hard work this morning. A clicking sound like a metronome tickled at the periphery of her hearing while she considered whether she needed to change the word telegraphed to

something more ooshy-gooshy romantic.


She tipped her head to listen. What was that sound?

Lily tossed her pen on the desk and glanced at the silver clock resting on the leather-topped surface. Time was running out. She had less than two hours to finish this story and get it on the last mail stage of the day. That snooty editor, Mr. Hogan, in New York, was waiting for it.

Not that she knew for certain he was snooty. Truth was, she didn’t know anything about him.

She’d only met him through correspondence, so he could be any age, any degree of pretentiousness, any color for that matter.

But that didn’t stop her creating an image in her mind: middle-aged, a monocle, oiled hair parted down the middle and slicked back, muttonchop sideburns, and a beard, of course. A house on Fifth Avenue, a society wife, private carriage, servants, and twelve children. At least.

She sighed. Thinking about all the reasons why she didn’t like the man responsible for buying her stories to publish in his fancy eastern magazine wasn’t going to get the story written. Or mailed.


She pushed back from the desk. What she’d written would have to do. She couldn’t work with such a racket. She stepped to the window and listened. Not coming from the front. Must be out back. She crossed the bedroom-turned-office to the window facing the rear of the house.

This view was much more utilitarian than the rolling desert and giant saguaros surrounding the house on the other three sides. A small barn for her three horses, a hen house, corral, and privy filled her line of vision.


Yes, this is where the sound came from.

And she knew its exact origin.

Lily hefted the Colt .38 on her hip. She’d take care of that she-rattler right now. She strode to the back door and stepped into the late afternoon heat of the desert.

The musky smell of mesquite, heated by the sun, filled her nose as she paused on the doorstep. How she loved the desert. She couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

Certainly not a place like New York City. No way. Give her cactus and rocks, cattle and dipping tanks, horses and leather any day. Unlike her heroines, she wouldn’t darken the doorway of a town bigger than Cave Creek. And she sure wouldn’t fall for the first man who looked at her twice.

Not that many men looked at her even once. She wasn’t ugly. At least, not ugly like a javelina, with its short bristly hide and snarling tusks. And not ugly like a turkey vulture, with its naked head and red eyes.

She preferred men’s dungarees to skirts. She wasn’t much practiced at cooking and cleaning. But she could outshoot, outride, and outsmart most men she knew.

Which was probably why most men didn’t take a second look at her.

Lily neared the woodpile. She’d been meaning to clean that mess up, sweep out the old tinder from the previous year. Even prop the wood up on a couple of timbers to discourage snakes and other varmints wanting to find a warm place to spend the night. But her best range cow had a difficult birth, and her horses

needed shoeing, and the hole in the roof . . .

Too much work for one person. Not enough hours in the day to get everything done. What had she been thinking when she started writing?

An escape, that’s what. Something to while away the long evenings.


She pulled on a pair of leather gloves and tipped her head to one side. If she didn’t get that low-down, no-good rattler out soon, there’d be a passel of little ones slithering around.

She glanced toward the horizon. The sun dropped like a lead sinker as though intent on ensuring she missed her deadline to get that story mailed today.

And she sure didn’t need Mr. Persnickety Hogan upset that her latest installment of Love in the Wild Wild West wasn’t on time.

About Donna

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid author who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both.

Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

Connect with Donna on her website
Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter here

Visit Donna on Facebook and Twitter

Buy Donna's other books on Amazon and  Smashwords

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Winner of Beneath The Summer Sun

Congratulations, Elaine!

American Christian Fiction Writers February New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


A Passionate Hope, Hannah's Story by Jill Eileen Smith -- Hannah has spent her life trusting God, loving her husband, putting up with abuse from a second wife and still she has no child--until one day she discovers the secret to her own heart's longings and rejoices in what will soon become God's promised hope. (Biblical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Contemporary Romance:

Focus On Love by Candee Fick -- In the standalone sequel to Dance Over Me, photographer-turned-actress Liz meets a freelancer who has put his career on hold, but when Ryan shows her what true love is all about, her life may never be the same. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Love by the Numbers by Laura V. Hilton -- When false allegations by the bishop back home catch up with Lydia and threaten to ruin her reputation, can she clear her name and find lasting happiness? Or will her sunny disposition fade away into heartbreak? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

Historical Romance:

This Treacherous Journey by Misty M. Beller -- Widowed and with child, Emma Malcom is fleeing arrest. Innocent of her husband’s crimes, she and her brother hope to make it through the Rockies to Canada for a clean start. When a city woman, heavy with child, appears on Simeon Grant’s doorstep with her injured brother, her presence resurrects memories he’s worked hard to forget. Widowed and childless because of his own bad choices, can he overcome the past that haunts him to give her the safety she needs? Will Emma break through the walls around Simeon’s heart before it’s too late, or will the dangers of these mountains be the end of them all? (Historical Romance, ACFW Qualified Independently Published)

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron -- Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman speaks of a secret past and castle ruins. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . . But her grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s, and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley to unearth its secrets before time silences them forever. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

The English Lieutenant's Lady by Evelyn M. Hill -- I’m not your enemy.” He held her gaze, willing her to believe the lie. It’s 1845. Britain and America both claim the Oregon Territory, and neither side is willing to back down. To survive, British Lieutenant Geoffrey Montgomery and American Lia Griggs both are pretending to be someone they're not. The last thing either of them wants is to fall in love. And as the threat of war grows stronger, choosing to stay together could cost them everything they have. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Widow of Rose Hill by Michelle Shocklee -- Widowed during the war, Southern slave owner Natalie Ellis strikes a bargain with a Union Colonel to save her plantation and her son’s inheritance: in exchange for use of her family’s property, the army will provide workers to bring in her cotton crop. Natalie Ellis is everything Colonel Levi Maish loathes: a Southern slave owner. But the plight of the beautiful Widow Ellis stirs to life his compassion and the heart he’d thought hardened by war. While the army camps on her land, Levi finds himself contemplating a future with Natalie and Samuel. But when he learns where her husband perished during the war, he knows a life with Natalie is impossible. How could she ever forgive him for what he’d done in battle on the banks of the Bull Run? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin -- As D-day approaches, an American naval officer and a British Wren work together on invasion plans. But if he succeeds, will he destroy what she loves most? (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Across the Blue by Carrie Turansky -- A determined young aviator who strives to be the first to fly across the English Channel also longs to win the heart of an aspiring journalist who is secretly covering the race across the Channel. (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

The Mail-Order Brides Collection by Megan Besing, Noelle Marchand, Donna Schlachter, Sherri Shackelford, Michelle Shocklee, Ann Shorey, Liz Tolsma, Jennifer Uhlarik, and Kathleen Y'Barbo -- Nine advertisements for brides lead to inconvenient complications in romance. Traveling west alone on a promise of marriage, each woman has her reasons to accept a husband sight unseen. Some are fleeing poverty or abuse while others simply seek hope for a brighter future. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

High Treason by DiAnn Mills -- CIA Operative Monica Alden and FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson face the challenge of their careers when a Saudi Prince's life is threatened on American soil. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

Kill Shot by Susan Sleeman --
As the ballistics and weapon’s expert for the FBI’s special task force nicknamed the White Knights, Rick Cannon has known the Department of Defense was developing self-steering bullets and feared their effects in the hands of the wrong people. Now his fear is coming true. The ammunition been stolen, and the Knights are called in to find the thief and stop the killings. When therapist Olivia Dobbs discovers one of her military clients moments after he is murdered, she becomes both the FBI’s prime witness, and suspect. But with a sniper now training his rifle on her, Rick must recall all the skills he learned as a Marine sniper to make sure the next bullet fired isn’t a kill shot that takes Olivia out. (Romantic Suspense from Faith Words [Hachette])

Supernatural Thriller:

The Man He Never Was by James L. Rubart -- In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us—and one man’s only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul. (Supernatural Thriller from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


Cheyenne Sunrise by Janalyn Voigt -- Can a woman with no faith in men learn to trust the half-Cheyenne trail guide determined to protect her? (Western by Mountain Brook Ink)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Looking Out The Window: Two-time Carol Award Finalist Kelly Irvin Talks About Beneath the Summer Sun, The Second Book In Her Every Amish Season Series. Gives Away A Copy.

A Warm Welcome to Kelly Irvin

Kelly will give away a print copy of Beneath the Summer Sun (U.S. residents only). To enter to win join the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

Hi Kelly, first tell us a little about yourself.

A native of Kansas, I’m a former newspaper reporter and public relations professional. I retired two years ago to write full-time. My husband and I have two children, two grandchildren, and two cats. For the last two years I’ve been dealing with ovarian cancer and a motor neuron disease called primary lateral sclerosis (PLS). I love Mexican food, mystery novels, Kevin Costner’s baseball movies, and Garth Brooks’ music.

I’m sorry about the illness and hope you’ll be better soon. Lots of writers were avid readers as children. How about you? If so, what did you read?

I’ve loved to read since first grade. My parents had to tear books from my hands to get me to go outdoors. I read Nancy Drew mysteries, A Wrinkle in Time, Harriet the Spy, Little Women, and Mary Stewart’s Merlin the Magician books, among many others.

Let’s talk about your writing. Why do you do it?

Because it gives me so much joy. I love losing myself in the story. I love it when a character does something totally unexpected. Or a new character shows up out of nowhere. It’s so much fun. I also believe God gave me the gift of writing and He expects me to use it for his glory. I’d hate to waste such a precious gift.

Tell us about your latest book.

Beneath the Summer Sun is a book about faith, trust, and second chances. Here’s the back-cover blurb:

Jennie Troyer knows it’s time to remarry. Can she overcome a painful secret and open her heart to love?

It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to marry again for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is that grief isn’t holding her back from a new relationship. Fear is. A terrible secret in her past keeps her from moving forward.

Mennonite book salesman Nathan Walker stops by Jennie’s farm whenever he’s in the area. Despite years of conversation and dinners together, she never seems to relax around him. He knows he should move on, but something about her keeps drawing him back.

Meanwhile, Leo Graber nurtures a decades-long love for Jennie, but guilt plagues him—guilt for letting Jennie marry someone else and guilt for his father’s death on a hunting trip many years ago. How could anyone love him again—and how could he ever take a chance to love in return?

In this second book in the Every Amish Season series, three hearts try to discern God’s plan for the future—and find peace beneath the summer sun.

What do you love about this book? And what do you hope readers will tell others about it?

I love that two equally worthy men fall in love with Jennie Troyer. Each man would make a good husband and father. Jennie deserves that after what she’s been through. I hope readers will tell others how involved they felt in the lives of the characters, how they felt as if they were part of the family and how they hated for the story to end.

How do you get to know your characters?

By writing their stories. I don’t do “character interviews” or write profiles before starting the novel. Partly because I am a seat-of-the-pants writer, and also because I used to work full time when my children were young and I had very little time to write. I didn’t want to use that time for planning. I had to sit down, put my fingers on the laptop keys, and go. I did this before I started work in the morning, over my lunch hour, and on the weekends. Fortunately, my characters showed up and introduced themselves.

What is your writing schedule and where do you write?

I try to be at my desk in my office writing every morning by 8:30 a.m. I do my morning devotional and prayers. Then I write until noon, when I stop to eat lunch and watch the noon newscast to see what’s happening in the word. Around 1:15 p.m., I go back to work. This may include writing blogs, answering emails, and social media, as well as promotional work for new releases. At about 4 p.m., I exercise for an hour to an hour and a half. Then I eat supper. Then I relax, unless I have pressing deadlines, in which case I go back to work. I often write on Saturdays to make up for doctors’ appointments that took up time during the week.

Does your faith affect your writing? How?

Faith does affect my writing. My writing is a gift from God and I want to glorify him with everything I write. I want every word to be pleasing to him.

Do you put yourself in your books?

Not specifically, but my life experiences seep into every book. They’re woven into the fabric of the stories from small details to big life events like the death of my brother in a boating accident or my cancer diagnosis, my marriage, and the birth of my children.

What are you working on right now?

I’m editing the last book in this 4-book series, Every Amish Season. I’m also pondering the plot for the second book in the romantic suspense series I’m writing. It’s due in August, so I need to get cracking on it! I’m also doing the marketing/promotions for Beneath the Summer Sun, so it’s a busy time for me.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read everything you can get your hands on. Hone your craft. Join a writing organization like American Christian Fiction Writers. Join a critique group. Polish your writing until it is the very best you can do before submitting it to an agent or editor. Not everyone agrees, but for me, the best path was getting an agent first. Agents can get your work in front of editors throughout the year. Writers really only have the opportunity at writing conferences when they have pitch appointments. It’s a tough business and good agents know it inside out.

Now a little more about you. What is the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?

When I was in college, I was an exchange student for three semesters in San Jose, Costa Rica, at the University of Costa Rica. When it was time to return, my friend and I decided to travel back to the United States via bus through Central America. We traveled through Nicaragua without incident, but in Guatemala City, gunfire erupted in the square where the bus stopped so we stayed on the bus and went on to Antigua. In Mexico City, we arrived after dark and had to find a hotel room for the night. They were so packed we had to share a room with a woman we’d never met. It was quite an interesting experience. We both had huge red backpacks that made us stand out like sore thumbs. Crazy gringa women!

Buy Beneath the Summer Sun   

On Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Books A Million


Two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist Kelly Irvin is the author of the critically acclaimed Amish of Bee County, Bliss Creek Amish, and New Hope Amish series. Her newest release is Beneath the Summer Sun, the second novel in the four-book series Every Amish Season from Zondervan Publishing. Her work has also appeared in four Amish anthologies, An Amish Market, An Amish Summer, An Amish Christmas Love, and An Amish Christmas. Kelly is a retired newspaper reporter and public relations professional who lives with her husband in Texas. They have two children, two grandchildren, and two ornery cats.

Connect with Kelly

On Facebook

Twitter:  @Kelly_S_Irvin


a Rafflecopter giveaway